Monday, February 1, 2016

Slow Cooker Meatballs...AKA: Albondigas


I work with a large group of Latinos and we're always talking about food. A typical conversation may sound something like this:
Co-Worker: So what did you bring for lunch?
Me: I brought [insert latest homemade meal].
Co-Worker: Oooooh that sounds good
Me: [smiles] I brought extra!
Co-Worker: [big grin] Can I have some?
Me: Sure!

I am always sharing food and bringing in baked goods for them to try. I mean if I don't share, then that means I HAVE to eat it. I love eating and all, but my figure isn't going to keep itself. Soooo...that's when the sharing comes into play. Sharing is caring!

The other day my cell mate...I mean my cube mate started telling me about the albondigas that her mom made the previous night. She went on about how she loves her mom's albondigas, but they are high in fat due to the type of meat she uses and my cube mate has been working out and trying to eat healthier. This got me thinking about my own albondigas recipe that I had posted a while back. While it's simple to make, it's labor intensive when you "fry" up the meatballs. What if I recreated the original recipe into a slow cooker recipe? It could work, right?! IT TOTALLY DID! They are leaner than the original recipe since I didn't fry them so these will not break the calorie/macro bank. The flavor is still amazing and you will not believe that they are the healthier version of my original recipe.

I don't know why I didn't think of this way of cooking the albondigas sooner. I am always trying to simplify things in the kitchen and using a slow cooker is the best way to maximize your time when cooking. The slow cooker and I have not always had a great track record. I've probably destroyed more meals in that thing than I've had successes. I'm proud to say that this recipe was a slow cooker success. YAY! <happy dance> You would think the ease of use would equal great success. For me, not so much. I think the simplicity of it screws me up. Anyway, I digress.
The meatballs can be made gluten free and paleo if that's your thing. Making them Paleo also makes them low carb so all you Atkins, Keto, low carb peeps can participate in this deliciousness. Feel free to fry them up before sticking them in the slow cooker for extra fatty goodness. Or not.

Are you ready to get your cook on? Let's go!

Meatball Ingredients:
  • 2 lbs. 96/4 lean ground beef
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tbsp. gluten free oat flour*
  • 1 tsp. Lea & Perrins Worcestershire sauce**
  • 2 eggs
  • 20 mint leaves, coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
*For Paleo/Low Carb, use almond meal.
**For Paleo use coconut aminos; Low Carb use Braggs Aminos or Gluten Free soy sauce

 Sauce Ingredients:
  • 6 vine ripe tomatoes
  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro
  • 1 yellow onion coarsely chopped
  • 1/4 tsp. salt

 Method:
  1. Combine the ground beef, minced garlic, oat flour, Worcestershire sauce, eggs, mint, salt, and pepper in a large mixing bowl. Use your hands to mix the ingredients thoroughly. I’m weirded out by touching raw meat and a total germaphobe so I put disposable gloves on to mix the meatball mixture.
  2. Once the ingredients have been mixed together, you will take a tablespoon sized portion of meat and roll it in your hands into a ball shape. Do this with the rest of the meat. You should end up with approximately 35-40 meatballs depending on how small you make them. Place them in the slow cooker as you roll them.
  3. Set the meatballs aside while you prepare the tomato sauce.
  4. Cut the tomatoes and onions in large pieces and place in a blender or food processor with the salt, garlic and cilantro. Blend until smooth.  
  5. Pour the sauce over the meatballs and cover.
  6. Cook on low for 8 hours or on high for 4 hours. I cooked them for 8 hours on low and dinner was ready when I got home from work. My apartment smelled amazing AND I didn't have to cook. I call that a win.  
  7. Serve with rice, quinoa, or as is for the Paleo/Low Carb version. Top with cotija cheese or queso fresco.


Hope you enjoyed this recipe as much as I always have. It was one of my favorites growing up. What slow cooker recipes do you enjoy making?

Friday, January 29, 2016

Damn Good Guac

 
I am one of those people that will pay extra money at Chipotle for guac. I LOVE it that much. I mean what is life without the deliciousness that is guacamole? I would die without it. I want to get that shirt that says "I know guac is extra" and wear just when I go to Chipotle. I'm a regular there, YOU SHOULD KNOW I DON'T CARE IT IS EXTRA. Ok rant over.

Anyways, I grew up eating avocados with everything. Maybe it's a Latino thing, I dunno, but avocados are amazing. I remember my mom making me avocado sandwiches that only had avocado, cotija, salt, pepper in between two slices of bread. HEAVEN. Then when she would make guac, I would be as happy as could be. Hers was always plain. Just avocado, garlic, lime juice, salt, pepper. Nothing like the recipe I'm going to present you with here shortly. I don't even know how I came up with it, but if pico de gallo and guacamole had a baby, this is what you would get:

Isn't it beautiful? Let's just take a moment of silence for the beauty that is in front of us.

<silence>

Guacamole is one of my go-to recipes when I'm feeling lazy and need to take a dish with me to a get together, picnic, or Superbowl parties. You can impress your friends with this awesome and easy recipe. It will be the thing you are known for. You'll be the MVP of the party for the best appetizer. People will beg you to bring it to the next function. How do I know this, I am that person. Ha.

Ok, are you ready for this recipe? It's fairly simple to make, the key is getting the avocados ripe enough that they still have their pretty green color like this:

I waited a week for these bad boys to get this color. The key is getting them when the skin is green and letting them ripen naturally in a fruit basket or on the counter. Once they turn brown and soft to the touch, then you put them in the fridge until they are ready to be made into guac. If you don't have a week for them to ripen, you can put them in a paper bag over night and they should be good to go the next day.

Alright, it's go time!

Ingredients:
  • 6-7 avocados (I use Hass avocados)
  • 1 tomato, chopped (seeds taken out)*
  • 2 tbsp. finely chopped cilantro (omit if you are a cilantro hater)
  • 1/4 of a red onion, diced
  • 2-3 garlic cloves (depends on how garlicky you like things)
  • 2 limes, juiced (these are key to keep it green the day after)
  • 1/4-1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 1 jalapeno (optional, adds a nice kick)
*In order to avoid watery guacamole, you really need to take the seeds and all tomato juice from the tomato before cutting and tossing into the guac.

 Method:
  1. Prepping the avocados - I will cut them in half, scrape the meat out of the skin and put them in a large mixing bowl. I discard the seeds. That old adage of putting the seeds in the guac to keep it from browning? ALL LIES. Lime juice is the secret. 
  2. Once you have prepped the avocados, take a potato masher and mash the crap out of them. They should have the consistency of mashed potatoes once you're finished getting your aggression out on them. Feel better? Yea I did too. ;) Set the bowl aside.
  3. Next comes the tedious part, chopping up the veggies. First make sure to wash them so they are nice and clean. No one likes a dirty veggie.
  4. Prepping the tomato - cut the tomato in half. Take a spoon and scrape the guts out and toss (or you can add to a salsa). Cut the tomato into small pieces and put in the bowl with the avocado.
  5. Chop the onion into small pieces. Toss in the bowl with the mashed avocados and tomato.
  6. Prepping the cilantro - take 5 branches and pluck the leaves so you don't have the stems. Put the leaves in a pile and then proceed to take a sharp knife and finely dice the leaves. Add the cilantro to the bowl with the other ingredients.
  7. Next you will either finely dice the garlic or use a garlic press. Add the garlic to the bowl. Garlic presses are such a delightful tool to have in the kitchen. If you don't have one, you are missing out on working smarter in the kitchen. I'm telling you, YOU NEED TO GET ONE NOW. Okay carry on.
  8. Add 1/4 tsp salt and pepper.
  9. Mix the ingredients together and do a little taste test. Is it salty enough? If not, add another 1/4 tsp of salt. If it's up to your salt expectations, let's move on to the final ingredient: the lime juice.
  10. If there's one ingredient you cannot skimp on (aside from the avocados, duh), it's the lime juice. They help keep the guac nice and green. No one likes brown guac. Trust me, lime juice is key. I've tried lemon juice and it's not the same. Just use limes, mmkay?! Cut the 2 limes in half and then put them in the lemon/lime squeezer (another excellent tool to have in the kitchen). Pour the juice into the mix. 
  11. Taste the guac to make sure that it passes the taste tester's seal of approval.
  12. Serve with tortilla chips, plantain chips to make it Paleo, jicama slices, veggies, etc.
  13. Can be stored in the fridge up to 5 days.
Let me know if you make this for the Superbowl! What are your favorite appetizers to have at Superbowl parties?

Stay strong my friends. Until next time!

Affiliate disclosure - I have partnered up with Amazon and they give me a (small) commission if you buy anything in the links at no extra charge to you. It's snack money and helps keep this bloggy blog free for my wonderful followers. The links are items that I actually use and love. With the exception of the Guac tee-shirt. I don't have that...yet... ;) Ok carry on!